Online Appointment Scheduling Helps Staff and Patients
The first and last impressions patients receive from medical practices, hospitals and health systems usually don’t come from physicians or nurses. They come from interactions with staff who are in charge of answering phones, scheduling appointments, checking patients in and out, and much more.
Office staff are indispensable masters of multitasking and champions of cheer. They verify addresses, phone numbers, allergies and insurance information, as well as update files and input details into patients’ electronic health records (EHR). They also handle billing procedures. Plus, they greet and direct office visitors who aren’t patients. They may even need to triage emergency situations, ensuring their offices are staffed properly and clinicians are available to address patient needs.
In a recent report released by Healthgrades and Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), the topic cited most frequently in both positive and negative patient reviews was the interaction with staff. These jack-of-all-trades professionals have several responsibilities, and studies show that automating some of their work, like with online appointment scheduling, can free them to focus more on patients in the office.
Convenience for consumers is driving online appointment scheduling.
Online appointment scheduling is becoming more popular. In fact, 25 percent of consumers prefer scheduling appointments with their physicians online, and that number is even higher among millennials. Several studies show that online scheduling is an upward trend:
— 77 percent of patients see the ability to schedule, change or cancel appointments online as important.
— 40 percent of patients would consider switching providers for online scheduling.
— By a 4:1 margin, patients prefer a physician with online scheduling to one without, even if the physician with online scheduling has less availability.
— By the end of 2019, nearly two-thirds of patients will schedule appointments digitally.
Staff can save time and be more attentive to patients in their offices.
On average, it takes a patient 8.1 minutes to schedule an appointment over the phone, with 30 percent of the time on hold, and staff transfer 63 percent of calls.  Scheduling online takes two-thirds of that time. So, for every 100 appointments scheduled, online scheduling capabilities could save nine hours for patients and staff.
Online appointment scheduling matters to patient experience.
Online appointment scheduling is an important convenience for consumers. And offering this service helps save staff time, ensuring they eliminate distractions from serving patients in the office.
Staff plays an important role in patient satisfaction, and online appointment scheduling can help them provide top-tier service.
To access the recent Healthgrades and MGMA analysis of 7 million patient reviews, revealing what people say about their physicians, click here.
To learn ways physicians can curb wait times for their patients, click here.
To learn how physicians can benefit from online patient reviews, click herfe.